In the Okanagan, there are hundreds of people sitting right now with piles of resumes on their desks, thinking “I hope we get the right mix of people this year”. There are others slaving away over their upcoming classified ad or online listing for a position, hoping it will draw the kind of employee they dream of at night. Even those who are perusing resumes and talking to connections to get the prospective employees that will best fit their workplace are feeling the pressure. Everyone is stressed.
It’s a nerve-racking task, to hire people, and it’s not much better to be hired. Here in one of Canada’s most popular summer destinations for travellers around the world, many of the jobs are seasonal, so the enthusiasm that goes with getting hired is tempered by knowing that you might have to be “on the block” again in the fall, looking for another job to get you through the winter. How do you pick the right person? How does a prospective employee pick the right company? Having the right people is a big start to offering the best customer experience.
Often we get sidelined by not considering the whole picture. Especially here in the Okanagan where it’s like paradise, it’s easy to get distracted by the view out the window at work or the charm of working outside in the sun. As an employee, do you really want to be working in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants at a fancy restaurant or hotel when it’s over 30 degrees for four weeks in a row? As an employer, have you conveyed the challenge of working through the summer months with non-stop guest interaction, when many of those guests will ask the same basic questions day after day? That task can become hard to do with a smile after a while for some people.
Here are my favourite tips, my best secrets on how to successfully hire the people you need (for employers). Underneath, I’ll give my corresponding tip for prospective keen employees 🙂
- Ask each prospect why they think they are better than any other candidate. (This can be very revealing, especially if other candidates were sitting with them outside your office.) Some people don’t like to blow their own horn, but honest workers will state their talents. Those less secure will often rely on talking about what other people don’t have – is that an attitude that you want on your team?
- Find out if the candidate knows about your company. Did they research your website, your team? Have they been to the business before? When I worked at Mission Hill Family Estate, I was surprised by how many prospects had not done either. This was a company that expected a high level of commitment from their staff, so a lack of initiative in the beginning didn’t usually bode well.
- Are they comfortable with your dress code? Sometimes something as simple as rules about not showing tattoos or piercings or having hair tied back will be a deal breaker for a prospective employee as well as the employer.
- Can they troubleshoot? I always asked them to describe a horrible situation they managed to resolve. The ability to think on your feet is invaluable, and not always easy to teach, as it requires that you be willing to take risks.
- Are they a “people person”? In a service environment, they will be expected to deal with people at some point 🙂 It’s fairly straight forward to teach employees about the tasks of the job, but it’s much harder to teach them to be friendly and sincere about liking people.
I suppose I should state what might for some (but not all) is obvious… employees should pay close attention to my tips above so they can showcase themselves in the best light, and know ahead of time if they are a good fit for a position. (For example, if you are not a people person, get out of the service industry. You’ll have much more fun doing something else!)
- If you can, talk to a current employee and ask them what they like about working for the company, and what they don’t like. An insider’s impression will often shed light on elements that are less obvious to the public.
- Decide what you want from the job. Do you want to learn more about the industry? Then a good training program will be advantageous. Do you want a flexible schedule? Then expecting a large number of hours is not very realistic in a seasonal position – they need you all the time 🙂
- Show off your unique personality in an interview – what kind of character are you in a team environment? Teams need a mix of people to do their best work, so your special talents will be one of your best-selling features.
- Be prepared to commit. Especially if it’s a seasonal position, know that they will want you as much as possible. The season is busy but it starts and ends abruptly. If you do need to work more than one job, be honest and up front from the start. If you are interested in working towards a permanent position, speak up about that too.
- Follow up. Do your homework – research the company between your call and your interview. Send a thank you after your interview. This will reinforce your commitment.
On both sides, an important thing to remember is to stay in the loop. The best people find their best jobs often because someone recommended them, or told them about the position or the company. Especially in the service industry, it’s not uncommon to work at a place you like to frequent as a customer 🙂
One last thing: Go with your gut. For employers, you might meet a candidate who doesn’t have the traditional requirements but impresses you with their character and enthusiasm. If you are a prospective employee that fits this description, put yourself out there. Some of the best people I have hired were not textbook candidates but they ended up as star employees.